Good Will and Volunteers Make Communities

For a year and a half we have owned a small property in Waikawa (Catlins). We are slowly getting to know the locals and other crib (bach) owners and feel privileged to have ended up in such a nice community. It is interesting that much that happens in Waikawa depends on good will and volunteers. The fire brigade is all volunteers, and the museum is manned on a daily basis by local people.

One retired woman in particular spends much of her time in the museum and is the 'go to' person for historical information on the area. When we first bought the crib we were given a good description of the past inhabitants and the origins of the first cottage. The Southland District Council had no records on the property due to the 1984 Invercargill floods destroying all records up to that point. Obviously anything done to the property since then was not reported (very little has been done, I can vouch).

When we visited Curio Bay (5 min down the road) to check out the yellow eyed penguins, the DoC ranger working there was also a volunteer. He was very knowledgeable and helpful but was working very hard to ensure that the many tourists were kept away from the endangered birds as they wandered between nests and sea. He was provided with a uniform and a caravan for accommodation but nothing else and he was working every day for a month.

There has been a New Year dance held at the Niagara Falls hall for many years and for a minimal cover charge there is a band made up local musicians (mainly from the Progress Valley Possum Pickers) and a proper country supper comes out after midnight. The event is reliant on local people giving up their time to make it an annual success.

The Possum Pickers performing at the annual bluegrass festival. 

My daughter lost her cell phone and it was picked up by someone who immediately took it to the museum (the community hub). The previous Summer a fisherman found that the battery to his truck had gone flat and lending him my jumper leads resulted in receiving a bag of freshly caught blue cod. People look out for each other and one favor generally results in another.

Our place is right near the Waikawa Wharf and there is a steady stream of traffic over the Summer months and we generally get a wave as people pass and often stop to chat.

Waikawa epitomizes the sort of community I always want to be part of.


Philip Todd said…
The Possum Pickers could only be described as iconic. Amazing how their love of music far outweighs and requirement of financial gain. Steven Hayes anchored the Southland scrum for many years and every prop including a few All Blacks that played against him spoke of his raw strength. Apparently his dad was the same. Great people and great area.
bsprout said…
I am still getting to know the people, Philip, but what you say confirms my experience so far, a high level of community commitment and appreciation of more than money.
Philip Todd said…
Back in the 60's I had some holidays down at Waikawa with my Uncle Stan. He drove the H&H bus from town each day. After the stop at Niagara he would let his son Mervyn who was about the same age as me, perhaps 14 years old drive the bus the last few miles. Mervyn had an old Morris 8 that we used to tear round the gravel roads as well. The good old days.
Was down at Waikawa in the late spring and there was a stunning magnolia tree which must be close to your crib by the Wharf.
bsprout said…
I will have to look out for the magnolia, I don't remember it, but behind our crib we have got a reasonably large walnut tree that seems to be thriving amongst the natives. The possums certainly like it and it is a battle to see who is first to get the walnuts.

Thanks for reminding me about the H&H buses, we have the remains of one of the last NAC DC3s beside our crib that was converted into a caravan. It is basically sound but needs some work to get it useable again.

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